This phrase appears four times in Thomas Dylan’s best-known villanelle poem “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.” The speaker opens the poem with this phrase, saying, “Do not go gentle into that good night,/ Old age should burn and rave at close of day;/ Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” The speaker urges his father to struggle with that the death, which has upset the speaker for the decline of his father’s health. He believes that those who cry have not shown much brilliance in life. Hence, if they can survive longer, they would be able to achieve more success.
It means those, who actually live their lives out, could better see how life has been bright for them before going towards sleep (death.) The speaker emphasizes that the older men should fight fiercely and strongly against death. The purpose of fighting against death is to realize the importance of being alive. The poet believes that goodness comes from fighting against the death with full force and might.
The phrase conveys a powerful message that when the death approaches, one need to know what has made his life meaningful, and should never fear death. Thus, in everyday life people can use it for encouragement like when a father, or mother, or grandmother is seriously ill, and is about to die, then their children can give them strength by using this phrase. It can serve the same function such as if someone is going to commit suicide, but is saved on time.
The speaker speaks to his father to fight death and repeats this phrase four times in the poem in lines 1, 6, 12 and 18.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light…
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
(Do not go gentle into that good night, Lines 1, 6, 12, 18)
The theme of this line is morality and transcendentalism. This line laments inevitability and necessity of death, encouraging the old people to rise up against their death and fate. The poet’s voice is arguing that the old people should not consent to die immediately. He has linked being alive with passion and deep emotions. Thomas’s “good men” and “wise men” resist dying gently, because they could not achieve what they might have achieved in their lives. Through the examples of different types of men, poet affirms the importance of being alive. He believes that they should resist dying, if they have not truly lived their lives.
- Metaphor: Good night is a metaphorical expression of death
- Alliteration: Alliteration occurs in sound g in “Go Gentle and Good” and n sound in “not and night.”
- Setting: Night, Darkness